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Newsmakers: Rob Russell

Busy year for first-term coroner

Published: Friday, Dec. 27, 2013 5:30 a.m. CST
(Photo provided by Walt Zimmer)
Kane County Coroner-elect Rob Russell thanks his supporters after the November 2012 election.

First-term coroner Rob Russell worked this year to bring integrity back to the Kane County Coroner’s Office. Russell has brought an upfront and open attitude toward his role as coroner, alerting the public to such problems as a broken morgue freezer on Thanksgiving Day.

“We’re done hiding behind things that aren’t true,” Russell said earlier this month. “I’m not going to hide behind some facade.”

The county’s previous coroner, Chuck West, was facing charges of official misconduct when he died in July 2012.

One of Russell’s first acts as coroner addressed the nearly 50 containers of unclaimed cremation remains – or cremains, as he called them – that had been stacked on a shelf in a room the coroner’s office uses for storage.

In March, Russell publicized his goal of finding a proper resting place for the cremains.

By June, six of the remains had been claimed by their next of kin.

A brief nondenominational memorial service and interment was held at the North Cemetery mausoleum in St. Charles for those that hadn’t been claimed.

Russell, who spoke at the annual Chris’ Walk Against Substance Abuse in July, has been part of the anti-heroin conversation.

He has welcomed suggestions as to how his office could be more proactive in preventing heroin deaths.

– Ashley Sloboda

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